Sat, Feb 11, 2006 - Page 7 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

A gray whale looks up at tourists in the Laguna San Ignacio off Mexico's Baja California peninsula on Wednesday. The number of gray whales making the yearly migration from the icy North Pacific to breed in Mexico's warm lagoons has dropped this year, scientists say, possibly because of changing weather patterns.

PHOTO: REUTERS

■ Japan

Koizumi saved by baby?

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has decided to scrap his plan to submit a bill to the parliament to let women inherit the imperial throne, after news that a princess was pregnant raised hopes for a male heir, media reports said yesterday. Despite strong opposition from conservative lawmakers, Koizumi had pledged to present the bill to the current session of parliament to avoid a succession crisis. Only males are currently allowed to inherit the throne, but no boys have been born into Japan's ancient imperial family since 1965. With some cabinet ministers openly questioning his plans, news that Princess Kiko, wife of the emperor's second son, Prince Akishino, was pregnant with her third child gave Koizumi a face-saving way out of a potential political battle, some analysts said.

■ Japan

Eruption plan complete

Japan's government is expected to announce this month measures to deal with a possible eruption of its famed Mount Fuji, officials said, but they added there were no signs that the long-dormant volcano had become active. The 3,776m Mount Fuji has not erupted for nearly three centuries, but signs of increased seismic activity five years ago prompted the government to create a panel to begin work on an evacuation plan. The panel has already outlined ways to evacuate people near Mount Fuji, the best locations for shelters, and envisaged flow routes of lava, ash, gas and rocks. The reports to date have also stressed the need to ensure efficient communications between the central and local governments and residents in the area by using the Internet, television and radio.

■ Cambodia

Opposition leader returns

Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy returned home yesterday after a year in self-exile, promising to work with the government in an apparent end to their long-running battle. "I'm very happy to be here," Sam Rainsy said as he was mobbed by supporters at Phnom Penh airport. "I am very moved. It's a new chapter of Cambodian politics which starts today," he said. When asked whether he could work with Prime Minister Hun Sen, his biggest rival, Sam Rainsy said: "Of course. I will work with anybody to develop the country."

■ Thailand

Guard shoots queue jumper

A stressed-out security guard opened fire on a woman who jumped the queue at a branch of Thailand's largest bank, police said yesterday. The 33-year-old guard was charged with attempted murder for shooting a university student on Thursday after a quarrel that erupted when a queue-ticketing machine broke down. A Bangkok Bank employee was also injured when a second bullet ricocheted and hit her left leg, a police captain said. The guard, Thong-arn Nalard, quarreled with the woman after telling her to get in the queue with other customers. He said she hit him in the back after he accidentally brushed her arm.

■ China

Confusion over bird flu

China has been unable to determine why most of its 11 human cases of bird flu have occurred in areas where no poultry outbreaks have been detected, a health ministry spokesman said yesterday. The health ministry this week announced China's 11th case in the southeastern province of Fujian. As in seven of the previous reported infections, the 26-year-old woman fell ill in an area where the agriculture ministry had not detected the deadly virus among poultry, according to the WHO. In four of these cases the health ministry later found the patients had close contact with sick birds, although the agricultural ministry could still not determine a bird flu outbreak.

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